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300 Million Villagers in China Have No Access to Safe Drinking Water
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One third of China's 900 million rural residents do not have access to safe drinking water, a senior Chinese environmental official said on Friday.

Preventing and controlling environmental pollution in the rural areas will be the top priority of China's ecological protection efforts this year, said Wu Xiaoqing, vice minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration, at a meeting on conservation and ecology held in Weihai, east China's Shandong province.

"Some 300 million rural residents are coping with unsafe drinking water, while more than 133,333 hectares of farmland are covered by trash heaps or garbage dumps," said Wu.

According to a research cited by Wu, China's rural areas produce some 8 billion tons of sewage, 120 million tons of trash and 2.5 billion tons of waste from livestock and poultry each year.

Some areas where cities meet the countryside have been turned into grounds for trash heaps and industrial waste.

"Environmental problems have become a hindrance for a sustainable development of rural society and economy in China," said Wu.

"Environmental pollution in some areas has led to a sharp rise in cases of certain diseases, and farmland irrigated with polluted water and overuse of farm pesticide in other areas have worsened the quality and quantity of farm crops," said the official.

(Xinhua News Agency June 9, 2007)

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